Red Deer city council’s decision to keep the Molly Banister Drive extension in future plans has dealt new challenges, as well as disappointments, to officials at Melcor Developments.
Tuesday’s council vote will greatly impact the development of a new neighbourhood south of Sunnybrook, said Guy Pelletier, vice-president of the Red Deer region for Melcor.
The builder had spent many months working with city administrators to develop plans for 600 residential units on about 110 acres, as well as 40 acres of parkland, on the hope there would be no bisecting roadway.
Administrators had recommended city council strike the road extension from future area plans. But council instead opted to keep the road option — leaving Melcor now having to redesign the new neighbourhood under the assumption the Molly Banister extension could happen by about 2054, or when the local population hits 188,000.
Pelletier estimates the new subdivision will contain about 12 acres less of residential development — or up to 70 fewer dwellings — because of the road allowance. He isn’t sure yet how much parkland can be preserved along the creek ravine.
Whether the extension of Molly Banister Drive across Piper Creek to connect with 40th Avenue and 22nd Street is built with four lanes or two lanes — or is built at all in 30 years — remains a big question mark.
“We had wanted to remove this uncertainty,” said Pelletier.
He’s disappointed in council’s decision, but remains confident there’s enough land to work with to create a pleasing subdivision.
“There are options … We will have to see what makes the most sense,” added Pelletier, noting Melcor does not want to rush this development, recognizing “this is a special property.”
While municipalities typically purchase land required for arterial roadways, this has not yet been discussed with the city.
Melcor also needs to have more talks to try to understand and address the divergent points of view of city council and city administration, said Pelletier.
City planners and engineers had concluded future traffic dilemmas could be solved without needing the Molly Banister road extension, but most city councillors thought otherwise.
There was a nearly a 60-40 split on the issue in recent public surveys, with most responding citizens favouring retaining the road allowance.
However, Pelletier noted most people who spoke “passionately” at Tuesday’s pubic hearing wanted to preserve the continuous natural corridor along Piper Creek and objected to any kind of new vehicle crossing.
“They are also going to be very disappointed… We’ll have to make sure we listen carefully and honour that perspective,” he added.